Newsletter: New Mexico Governor’s Emergency Gun Carry Ban Reveals Gun Control’s New Political Limits

We’ve talked a lot about the legal limits of gun control in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court Second Amendment ruling. But, this week, we saw a new political limit show itself in addition to a legal one.

Last Friday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D.) used emergency powers to suspend gun-carry rights in the state’s largest city and surrounding county. That led to a flood of lawsuits. A group of New Mexicans defied the order in an armed protest without consequence shortly afterward. And nearly everyone, from local law enforcement officials to her AG to nationally recognized gun-control activists, has decried the order as unconstitutional. On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked the order.

Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman does a deep dive into the backlash to the order and outlines how it represents a new floor in the gun-rights debate.

Meanwhile, the Special Counsel overseeing the investigation into Hunter Biden filed three gun charges against him on Thursday. Jake also took a look at the very real possibility that Hunter could use a Second Amendment defense. Would that actually work?

California also passed its version of the Bruen-response carry restrictions. And Smith & Wesson posted its first quarterly sales growth in years giving us the first significant evidence the gun market may have stopped its recent decline.

Plus, The Atlantic’s Andrew Exum joins the podcast to explain his view of gun culture and why hunting is more important to America than most imagine.

A Glock holster on sale at a gun show in Chantilly, Virginia during July 2023
A Glock holster on sale at a gun show in Chantilly, Virginia during July 2023 / Stephen Gutowski

Biden-Appointed Federal Judge Blocks New Mexico Governor’s ‘Emergency’ Gun-Carry Ban
By Stephen Gutowski

Law-abiding New Mexicans can once again carry guns for self-defense after a federal judge ruled Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham can’t enforce her emergency ban.

District Judge David H. Urias, a Joe Biden appointee, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in court today. The order, which hasn’t been published yet, enjoins the state from enforcing its total suspension of concealed and open carry in New Mexico’s largest city and county. The TRO goes into effect immediately and extends through October 3rd.

The speedy ruling, coming less than a week after the emergency gun-carry ban was enacted, signals the policy has little chance of surviving judicial scrutiny. The Governor’s order is the most straightforward challenge to date of the Supreme Court’s holding that the Second Amendment protects Americans’ right to carry a gun for self-defense in last year’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The immediate failure of the Governor’s outright carry ban in federal court likely means, unless she is successful in a potential appeal, the leaders of other states are unlikely to replicate her approach.

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Pro-gun protesters
Pro-gun counter protesters demonstrate at the March For Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C. on March 24th, 2018 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: New Mexico’s Governor Has Discovered New Political Limits of Gun Control [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D.) isn’t the first elected official to try and score partisan points by pushing for a constitutionally dubious gun policy. But she is quickly becoming one of the first in recent memory to see that effort backfire.

Late last Friday, Lujan Grisham issued an “emergency order” declaring that it would be illegal to carry a gun openly or concealed in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for 30 days, even for those with valid carry permits. Just five days later, a federal judge put a stop to the ban with a temporary restraining order.

Lujan Grisham’s failed carry ban is the latest in a long line of state and local politicians attempting to push the envelope of gun policy. The quintessential example is the city of Philadelphia, where policymakers routinely try to pass gun control laws despite being keenly aware of Pennsylvania’s preemption law. Though the city nearly always loses in court, it continues this course because, in a deep blue city like Philadelphia, there is usually no political price to be paid for passing illegal gun laws—only political upside.

The same calculus can be seen in the Bruen-response bills passed in states like New York and New Jersey that have, in effect, created carry regimes more restrictive than those the Supreme Court struck down when it recognized a constitutional right to carry a firearm. Though New York and New Jersey have already received several rulings against broad swaths of their respective new laws, California lawmakers are preparing to adopt essentially the same policy because in the Golden State, as along the Acela corridor, gun restrictions are praised more than they are condemned.

But what happened in New Mexico, despite its status as a safe-blue state, has taken a dramatically different course. Instead of praise, Governor Lujan Grisham has almost unanimously received scorn.

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A revolver on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A revolver on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Hunter Biden Indicted on Three Federal Gun Charges
By Stephen Gutowski

President Joe Biden’s son has been charged with federal crimes related to his purchase of a revolver during a time when he was actively using crack cocaine.

Special Counsel David

Special Counsel David Weiss filed three counts against Hunter Biden in Delaware federal court on Thursday. Two of the felony charges are related to accusations the younger Biden lied on the background check he filed out in order to purchase a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018. The third is over allegations that he continued using hard drugs for the two weeks he owned the gun.

The indictment claims Hunter “made a false statement” on the background check form “that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.” It further alleges that “defendant Robert Hunter Biden, knowing that he was an unlawful user of and addicted to any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance as defined in Title 21, United States Code, Section 802, did knowingly possess a firearm.”

If convicted, Hunter could face years in federal prison as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Click here to read more.

The California state flag flies alongside the US flag
The California state flag flies alongside the US flag / Photo by richardsongo on Pixabay

California Legislature Sends Bruen-Response, Gun Tax Bills to Governor Newsom’s Desk
By Jake Fogleman

Gun owners in the Golden State will soon find it much harder to carry in public for self-defense thanks to a new bill passed by the state legislature.

California lawmakers approved legislation on Tuesday overhauling the state’s process for obtaining concealed carry permits and significantly expand the number of “sensitive places” where even licensed carry is a crime. Senate Bill 2, crafted in direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D.) desk. He has pledged to sign it into law.

“There’s a reason why you’re far less likely to die from bullets in California,” Newsom said in a press release celebrating the passage of SB 2. “We’re using every tool we can to make our streets and neighborhoods safer from gun violence.”

Click here to read more.

A sign at the Smith & Wesson booth during SHOT Show 2022
A sign at the Smith & Wesson booth during SHOT Show 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Smith & Wesson Reports 35 Percent Sales Jump After Years in Decline
By Stephen Gutowski

An iconic American gun brand has increased its sales despite an ongoing decline in the overall market.

On Thursday, Smith & Wesson posted its first year-over-year net sales increase in eight consecutive quarters. In the company’s latest quarter, sales jumped $29.8 million to $114.2 million. That represents a 35.4 percent increase from the same quarter last year.

“We are very pleased with our first quarter performance,” Mark Smith, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our top line results reflected strong consumer demand for the Smith & Wesson brand at retail. Channel inventory of our products remained steady throughout the seasonally slow period this summer, indicating healthy pull through of our shipments at both distributor and retailer levels.”

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A 1911 pistol sits on a table above a leather holster
A 1911 pistol sits on a table above a leather holster / Stephen Gutowski

New Mexico Democrats Call on Governor to End ‘Emergency’ Gun-Carry Ban
By Jake Fogleman

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D.) suspension of gun-carry rights continues to draw backlash, including from lawmakers in her own party.

A group of six Democrats holding seats in the New Mexico state House of Representatives sent a letter to Governor Lujan Grisham on Monday asking her to rescind her gun-carry ban emergency order “immediately.”

“We concur with law enforcement leaders that these executive orders violate law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights and would require law enforcement officers to infringe upon these rights, which could expose officers, police agencies, and communities to civil litigation,” the Democrats said in the letter. “We agree that the Governor does not have the authority to disregard both the New Mexico Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and to create law without action from the New Mexico Legislature.”

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Pistols on display in a Pennsylvania gun store during April 2023
Pistols on display in a Pennsylvania gun store during April 2023 / Stephen Gutowski

New Mexicans Openly Defy Governor’s Gun Carry Ban in Albuquerque Protest
By Stephen Gutowski

More than a hundred people openly carried firearms in an Albuquerque park on Sunday as an act of protest against the governor’s emergency suspension of carry rights.

The protesters carried signs and gave speeches against Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s emergency order banning both open and concealed carry in the city and surrounding county for 30 days. Many of those in attendance also carried firearms, according to multiple videos of the event published by news outlets.

“We’re not here to cause any issues. We’re just here to, you know, express our amendment rights,” a gun owner identified by KOB4 as Derek J. told the news station. “And, you know, we’ll go from there.”

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Podcast: The Atlantic’s Andrew Exum in Defense of Hunting
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re talking about the importance of hunting.

In a bit of a surprise move, The Atlantic published a superb article explaining why America needs hunting more than many might imagine. So, I thought it would be a good idea to have the author of the piece on. That’s why Andrew Exum is joining the show.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about Boston doubling down on delaying gun-carry permits.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. You can watch the episode on our YouTube channel.

A revolver on display at the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show
A revolver on display at the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Evaluating a Potential Hunter Biden Second Amendment Defense [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

There’s now a genuine possibility the President’s son could be one of the country’s next big Second Amendment plaintiffs. Moreover, he stands a solid chance of winning.

Earlier this week, Special Counsel David Weiss announced that his office intends to seek a federal indictment against Hunter Biden before the end of the month. The filing, spurred by the collapse of a plea deal with the Department of Justice last month, specifically aims to charge Biden for violations of federal firearms law relating to his acquisition and possession of a handgun at a time he admitted he was addicted to crack cocaine.

“The Speedy Trial Act requires that the Government obtain the return of an indictment by a grand jury by Friday, September 29, 2023, at the earliest. The Government intends to seek the return of an indictment in this case before that date,” the filing reads.

Depending on the specific nature of the eventual charge(s), it seems likely that the junior Biden will face potential prison time for violating a statute for which his father recently increased criminal penalties. Adding to the intrigue, his lawyers have already pledged to challenge any federal gun charge Hunter might face under the Second Amendment.

Should that happen, Biden stands a distinct possibility of not only succeeding—avoiding a felony conviction and possible jail time—but also adding to a growing body of Second Amendment jurisprudence whittling away at federal firearms prohibitions.

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Outside The Reload

Ninth Circuit rebukes lawmakers, grants injunction against California law targeting gun marketing | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Pennsylvania Supreme Court will soon rule on preemption law in challenge from Philadelphia | WHYY | By Sammy Caiola

Ninth Circuit revives challenge of California open-carry ban | Courthouse News Service | By Alan Riquelmy

Gun industry challenge to Delaware ‘public nuisance’ law dismissed | Reuters | By Diana Novak Jones

First Circuit hears argument over Rhode Island high-capacity magazine ban | Courthouse News Service | By Thomas F. Harrison

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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